China chemical accidents kill almost 200 in 2016: Greenpeace

Industrial accidents are common in China, where work safety regulations are often flouted

Afp September 21, 2016
Rescuers spray hydrogen peroxide at the site of Tianjin warehouse explosion on August 20, 2015 in Tianjin, China. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING: Chemical accidents have killed nearly 200 people in China so far this year, environmental group Greenpeace said Wednesday, calling on Beijing to overhaul the "appallingly under-regulated" industry.

Industrial accidents are common in China, where work safety regulations are often flouted.

In the first eight months of the year, China saw 232 chemical accidents which killed 199 people and injured 400, Greenpeace said in a statement.

"China's chemicals industry is the largest in the world, but it is appallingly under-regulated," said Cheng Qian, its East Asia toxics assistant manager.

"Tragic accidents occur on an almost daily basis."

The report comes a little over a year after massive explosions in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people, sending a monumental fireball skyward and mangling structures kilometres away.

Greenpeace said it counted this year's accidents by collecting data from government websites and media reports.

Leaks were the cause of 43 percent of the accidents, followed by fire and explosions.

Most of China's 33,000 chemical facilities are concentrated in the densely-populated east, Greenpeace said.

China must thoroughly reform its chemicals management policy to ensure health and environmental safety, it added.

Earlier this summer more than 130 people were taken to hospital after chemicals leaked from a plant in eastern China.

In April a chemical fire burned for 16 hours in the coastal province of Jiangsu after an explosion at a facility storing chemicals and fuel. Some 400 firefighters were needed to quell the flames.

The massive blasts in Tianjin, which caused over $1 billion in damages, sparked widespread anger at a perceived lack of transparency by officials about the accident's causes and environmental impact.

A government inquiry  recommended that 123 people be punished.


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